Nov 25 2007

CityView: Raven and Jason

Raven and Jason is a Globe and Mail documentary about a couple living under horrific conditions in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (Thanks to Beyond Robson for the link).

The documentary shows their lives intimately, including scenes of them shooting up drugs. The exercise clearly gives them little pleasure, other than deadening their senses to their plight.

The documentary brought to mind a recent Economist article highlighting some experimental research that poked a big hole in the longstanding theory of drug addiction. The research implied environment had far more to do with addiction than the drug itself.

Oft-quoted studies on individual rats in little empty cages showed that when given a choice between cocaine-laced water and regular water, the rats invariably chose the toxic water.

But in the study highlighted in the Economist, rats living amongst their kin in spacious and stimulating environments (essentially Vancouver’s West End for rats) almost always rejected the drugged water.

Even a group of rats fed drugs to create dependency rejected the poison when later given the opportunity, despite the discomfort of withdrawal.

Given the despair of the Downtown Eastside, it’s certainly easy to see how the Economist study would apply.

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3 responses so far

3 Responses to “CityView: Raven and Jason”

  1. on 26 Nov 2007 at 1:17 am

    Environmental Determinism is a tricky subject. Obviously however, nobody wants the DTES to be the way it is. The failure of the war on drugs is no more apparent than here. The police are failing to stop the big players, harm reduction is under attack from neo-conservative feds, prevention is missing, and treatment is severely underfunded and subject to NIMBYism.

  2. on 27 Nov 2007 at 3:01 am

    I wish you would include the link to the economist article.

  3. on 27 Nov 2007 at 3:33 am

    If I had the link, I would have put it in. I have a subscription to the Economist and happened to read the article sometime in October or November (that should narrow it down). Now I’m having trouble finding it. But there’s a related article from the Economist here: (

    If I do happen to find the article again, I’ll be sure to post a link if there’s an online version.

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